department of motor vehicles

California GOP Candidate for Governor Compares DMV Lines to the Holocaust

Everybody hates waiting in line at the DMV. But it’s not quite the same as Nazi Germany. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Nobody wants to deal with the DMV. The Department of Motor Vehicles (as it is called in most states), as a purveyor of a near-universal service, is stereotypically bureaucratic. Getting or renewing or modifying a driver’s license or a car tag is a tedious process usually supervised by tedious people (or interesting and entertaining people made tedious by the work they do). I once lost a driver’s license to a mugger, and after waiting for three hours to hear my number called at the DMV, was told I was “not in the system” and would have to apply for a learner’s license, though I had been driving for over a quarter-century (long story short, the day I got my original license, the computers were down, so they just typed mine up without bothering to enter me in the database).

I don’t know if California’s DMV is worse than average; they make it pretty easy to do online the stuff you are allowed to do online, though in-person transactions are different. At the moment, though, there is a bit of a brouhaha over long lines and delays attributable to the implementation of the federal Real ID mandate, that slowly implemented post-9/11 law which will require, as of 2020, a heightened security process for boarding planes or entering many federal facilities.

Complaints about long delays led the legislature to give the DMV some emergency money for additional staffing just last month, and the agency claims it’s working, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

Since the DMV began shifting more staff to field offices, the average wait time Tuesday was reduced to 137 minutes from 162 minutes the week before.

Hardly speedy service, but I’ve seen worse.

But since California state government is totally controlled by Democrats, Republicans love to make hay over things like wait times at the DMV, and GOP gubernatorial nominee John Cox has made it a regular feature of his long-shot campaign. But in a campaign visit to a DMV office in Sacramento, he got a little carried away, as Capital Public Radio reports:

“How long have you been waiting,” he asks [a] woman, who responds “close to an hour.”


Cox then relays a story of a conversation with a man he met at a DMV in Southern California:


“You know, I met a Holocaust survivor in Long Beach. He survived concentration camps, and he said this was worse. He’s 90 years old and he had to wait four hours down in Long Beach. Can you imagine that?” Cox says.

Cox apparently never got the memo about inappropriate Holocaust analogies.

Before the Anti-Defamation League had time to reprimand Cox, his staff back-peddled furiously:

Campaign spokesman Matt Shupe said Cox mistold the story.


“John isn’t saying it was worse than the Holocaust. The guy didn’t say it was worse than the Holocaust,” Shupe said. “He was saying that it reminded him of pre-war Germany” when Jews had to wait in lines to be processed.”


“In no way does he mean this as a slight to the Jewish community,” Shupe added. “He misspoke. It’s very unfortunate. But it’s nothing more than that.”

I guess that’s better, though Cox would be well advised to leave the Nazis out of it altogether.

California GOP’s Cox Compares DMV Lines to the Holocaust